Saturday, September 12, 2015

Gluten and Your Diet, What is It?

by Kris Pitcher

Nutrition is full of trends and fads. A trend refers to the growing popularity of something, where a fad is something that comes and goes very quickly - think fashion. For various reasons, gluten is all the rage. That is not to say it's a fad. There is an increasing trend in awareness about gluten.

Gluten is a protein. It has a curly structure, and is found in wheat, rye and barley. These members of the grass family contain true gluten, some people are highly allergic, and others are intolerant of gluten.

Now, both corn and rice have stored proteins called gluten, but their protein structure is slightly different. They don't contain true gluten. One of the challenges with certain grains is cross-contamination.

Rice, oats, and quinoa don't have true gluten proteins, but face cross-contamination either in growing, or processing. When oats are grown near wheat, you have cross-contamination issues. It's nature. This is common with oats especially.

So what's all this about? Today's conversation is about the dumbing down of nutritional issues. If I told you water was lactose free...would you buy it? Would you think my water was better than the water next to it without that claim?

How about cholesterol free carrots? The carrots in that package must be healthier than the ones next to it that don't say "cholesterol free"? Right? The thing is, plants (mostly) do not contain cholesterol. None of the carrots ever had any in the first place. But consumers are stupid. So, marketing is king.

Rice Chex cereal, "Gluten Free" - it says it right on the box. Well? Does rice contain gluten? Fundamentally, no. Now, what a smart consumer does know is gluten is often added to products as fillers. Check your labels for ingredient lists.

But that consumer is not likely buying boxed cereal anyway. My point is, don't be fooled by marketing regarding nutrition information that should not be in the item you are buying. Lactose is in MILK, not water. Cholesterol is in animal products, not vegetables.

Learn about things you care about. Find out more information about nutrients you want to include or exclude from your eating plan. Don't be a sucker for marketing claims. Be a smart, informed, consumer.

Me? I love gluten. It doesn't agree with me. It's inflammatory (kind of like my blogs sometimes). It doesn't fit into my prep, or off season plans. BUT I do enjoy the occasional gluten gluttony.

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